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Old 02-14-2012, 09:26 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default RE: Analog transition to Hybrid (DCC/Analog system)

Greetings,


I have a perhaps rather long question - so pardon if it seems to go on and on.....


There is the DCC approach control with a 'main' control box and then a hand-held 'navigator' units. And I have seen that there is a lot of PC software out there to control your lay-out. It appears that with a serial connection (DB9 or USB) to a main control box (of any type) you can use the software to write out a CV value directly to loco's with decoders and also issue write commands to the main control unit to manage the switches.


So which is better ? Seems like you could layer in the software to write out values and validate the registers with a read command for CV values you have changed in a particular loco - and then have the graphical ability to see the state of your switches and other control mechanisms to semi-automate your lay-out. I see that LGB was just starting to do this with their LGB computer module - and that I think Massoth still makes this little blue box - although the LGB Windows based software looked a bit 'wonk' - like perhaps it was the first version ?


I still like the analog control I have now - but very much want to be able to semi-automate the switches and gates - I have read through a ton of LGB documentation and basically can create some simply circuits with the add-on supplementary switches (they are just relays), I have not bought just yet. I already use an electrical LGB control box to switch the EPL right and left control of switches through out the track...but want more automation, and stuff like controlled real braking and speed control.


Basically - Should I take the plunge of investing in a LGB Type III bus control box ? And then going forward from there I should be able to use Zimo and Massoth decoders on loco's - Seems like there is a ton of legacy stuff left over from LGB that are still available or have been absorbed by Masssoth, Lenz or others.


Thank You,
Brett
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Old 02-14-2012, 10:22 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default RE: RE: Analog transition to Hybrid (DCC/Analog system)

Bret:
Generally speaking, most PC programs for layout control work with DCC (LGB MTS) layouts, I personally do not know of any that work with analog layout.

Programs that allows you to read and write decoder CV values and programs that manage layout are usually seperate and independent programs.

If you wish to continue in analog mode, you could use LGB track contacts, magnets, and supplementary switches to automate some aspects of your layout ( you can pm me for details on how to do).

If you have a relatively small layout and you wish to plung into DCC, the LGB MTS III is a resonable option, simple to operate, good support, a large user base, etc. Massoth make all LGB electronics including the MTS III central station; the Massoth Navigator plugs directly into the MTS III central station and brings with it a few enhanced capabilities. Keith, a member of the forum, may want to shime in on this.

You can use any NMRA compliant decoder with the MTS III central station including those from Zimo & Massoth.

Mohammed
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Old 02-14-2012, 10:37 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default RE: RE: Analog transition to Hybrid (DCC/Analog system)

I'm not sure I understand your question correctly, but let me take a shot at it. Forgive me if I'm telling you stuf you already know. I use the NCE system. I can connect my DCC layout to a computer via a serial cable or via a serial to bluetooth adapter, which lets me send signals from the computer to the NCE command station via bluetooh.

I can run the layout using JMRI (Java Model Rail Interface) a wonderful freeware program. JMRI Lets you write to decoders and store files on decoder isettings. It's a graphical interface and it makes setting CV values a breeze.



JMRI also lets you build control panels on the computer to control functions on the layout. There are various ways it can trigger automation, but all of them involve wiring isolated blocks and block detectors. Once you have reliable block detection, though, you can automate switch throw and engine behavior.

You can also do some automation without the computer using what Lenz calls "asymmetrical DCC," in which one rail is put at slightly lower voltage than the other, triggering behaviors in the decoder. You put five diodes in series across one rail, basically. I recently set up a back and forth trolley this way, and though it took me a while because Lenz's documentation was a messed up, it works very well and with a Lenz decoder is entirely passive. I was alos able to set up a protected crossing using a block detector and two Lenz BM-2 modules. A little more complicated, but eventually I figured it out.

You could use Asymmetrical DCC to trigger automation like station stops as well.

Asymmetric DCC

A number of comapnies now support Asymmetric DCC: I know that Lenz, ESU, Zimo and QSI support it, not sure about Massoth.

DCC Bitswitch is a cool company that has a lot of ways to automate behaviors in DCC. I'm just figuring out the parameters of some of this stuff myself. There is no way that I can see to do automation without adding wiring.
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Old 02-15-2012, 06:22 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default RE: RE: Analog transition to Hybrid (DCC/Analog system)

Since MTS is a system that only uses 14 speed steps (90's technology) , I would not make it my first choice. 28 and 128 speed steps are much nicer for control.
Newer MTS units can do 28 speed steps, but not 128.

However, there are a lot of old MTS engines and other equipment that use 14 speed steps, so make sure you have compatibility for running those from your command station.

Of course, Massoth is fully compatible as is Zimo.

Mixing DCC and Analog is not something I would do and I have a switch so I can be either, Aristo 27mhz train engineer for analog, or the Zimo DCC system for my layout.

And in general, the more you spend on a system, the more complex it can be, but more options are available.
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Old 02-15-2012, 10:59 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default RE: RE: Analog transition to Hybrid (DCC/Analog system)

Another option is a combination of systems such as Analog and MTS/DCC:

I use this with both my main line and inside loop but with different power supplies. All it takes to change from Analog to MTS or back is the flip of a switch. Of course this does not address your question of automating your layout since I use all electric turnouts with push button switches to open access to sidings and a SPST switch to power the sidings.

This works with a Central Station 1, Central Station II or Central Station III but the Central Station III is needed to use a Massoth Navigator.




On another layout I go a step further and also have DCS capability plus a sleep timer (to shut the train down when I go to sleep):








Another layout is run primarily with Revolutions. All systems have some features I like and some I don't so rather than pick one over the others I like to try and use all of them (only using a small part of their capabilities).

I'm not making any recommendations - just pointing out some options that have worked well to meet my very limited expectations. I have no idea what DCC or other electronics are currently available to automate layouts.

Jerry
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Old 02-15-2012, 11:14 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default RE: RE: Analog transition to Hybrid (DCC/Analog system)

There is no way that I can see to do automation without adding wiring.

Not necessarily. Massoth has wireless feedback transmitters to eliminate a lot of wiring. You would need to provide the feedback module with power from the track but I know if I ever automate my layout that's the way I would go.

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Old 02-15-2012, 02:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default RE: RE: Analog transition to Hybrid (DCC/Analog system)

Keith: you are absolutely right about the Massoth wireless feedback transmitter, it absolutely does reduce considerably the need to wiring, but it does require Bret to plug into DCC.

Bret: Kormsen has posted this link in another thread, it is definitely taking a look at: http://kormsen.info/lgb-manual.pdf

Kormsen: thanks for the link. I have looked for this for a long time and never found it, the version I have found lack the graphics.

Mohammed
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Old 02-15-2012, 05:26 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default RE: RE: Analog transition to Hybrid (DCC/Analog system)

Ok, so I started reading about how to create a circuit but am confused by something on the diagram below:


1) First the break in the rails, am I to use a small plastic LGB track isolator for those breaks in the rail ?

2) From the supplementary switch the leads going to 1 and 2 - where do you land those wires ? Is there not some way to properly terminate the wires ?


3) And this would start/stop the trains - but at what ever speed they are going when they enter into the 'station' - so that would seem highly unrealistic to me - I want to have smooth deceleration and braking with the same start-off and acceleration from a stop.


4) Would the LGB Jumbo be useful to me ? Using some of the features built into for controlled braking/acceleration ?
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Old 02-16-2012, 12:51 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default RE: RE: Analog transition to Hybrid (DCC/Analog system)

Bret:
(1) you can use either the LGB insulated rail joiner, or the Massoth 8102508 insulated rail jonner. The difference is that the Massoth gives you termination points for leads 1 and 2 from supplemantary switch , the LGB does not.
(2) if you choose to use the Massoth insulated joiner, the termination of the wires is provided. I f you choose to use the LGB joiner, you could terminate the wires by using the LGB 50161 track connectors.
(3)With the above circuit, the stops would be abrupt; in order to achieve more realistic deceleration, you would need the Massoth-LGB braking module.
4) the Jumbo is a very nice power pack, and I have used one for along time. It is getting more and more difficult to find in good condition, and it will not help you much in this context.

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Old 02-16-2012, 11:07 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default RE: RE: Analog transition to Hybrid (DCC/Analog system)

Greetings,


If I use the LGB/Massoth braking module in analog mode for an automatic reverse loop can I expect the transition to be very smooth ?- perhaps imperceptibly as the polarity automatically changes ? Also, if I want to program the braking module,which is easier to use the small hand held programmer from LGB or use the LGB 55045 MTS PC decoder programming module ?



Only Trains has the 55045 module, and it includes the LGB software - it that software enough to (and does it work with Windows XP?) to get me up and going with CV programming of the braking module and all other LGB MTS devices ? Do people have a much preferred alternate ?


Someone mentioned the 'steps' limitation on the LGB decoders or wait - was it the MTS station itself ? In any case - are the LGB decoders not smooth ? Meaning slow, graduated initial throttle movement ? And can I from the LGB hand help remote whether wired or wireless - turn lights on and off, get bells and horn to sound ? I already have magnets throughout the track that are triggered by reed switches (I think) inside of the locomotive.


Sorry for all the questions,I want to delve into the digital spectrum - but want it to be a positive one and not one that starts off with frustration. I want to be able on a relative small scale have semi automated train operation - smooth braking to stops with correct and realistic train and track operation that allows an interesting lay out for myself and others to be intrigued with. An one that allows a certain amount of scalability and room for growth too.



Thank You,
Brett
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